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Disabled custodian receives badge of honor

National Disability Employment Awareness month
Posted: 5:51 PM, Oct 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-08 15:24:01-04

BEL AIR, Md. — It's the same task every day.

"I empty all the trash on the second floor and then the trash in the third floor," Jack Guercio explained.

But the 77-year-old is far more than a custodian at the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

"I think it's 27 years now. Right, Jack? Somewhere around that," said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler. "Anybody who goes out there and puts their life at risk---Jack has the utmost respect for them, and he's part of the team."

Jack's respect dates back to his childhood.

"When I lived in Baltimore City,” Jack said. “I actually played sheriff when neighbor's kids played bad guys."

But while others grew into careers in law enforcement.

"Well, I had my friend was a policeman across the street."

Jack's disabilities left him on the outside looking in. He landed his dream job with the sheriff's office in the early 90's

"What's the best part of working here?" we asked Jack.

"Hanging around talking to the deputies," he said.

Badges and patches became Jack's passion, and law enforcers and firefighters from near and far have contributed to his collection.

"I was in Rome,” Gahler recalled. “There were three police officers, and one of them was so happy to get a patch, he reached right inside his jacket and pulled the patch off his shoulder."

But the badge, which means the most came earlier this year.

"This is the new Harford County Sheriff's badge," said Jack as he held up the shiny badge hanging from a holder about his neck. "This is usually what the deputies will wear."

"That badge has been personalized for him,” explained the sheriff. “He's the heart of our operation."

Can people with differing abilities make a difference?

Absolutely.

"You can see the passion in Jack,” says Joe Hughes, Director of Employment Services for the Arc Northern Chesapeake Region. “You can see the dedication from the sheriff, and that's what we want for all of our individuals that we support through the Arc NCR. He is a part of the team."

And he can't foresee a time when he'll be ready to retire.

"I'm not going to walk away from this," Jack tells us. "They're all like family."

"Do you just miss it too much?" we asked.

"Only when I'm not working."